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{Thursday, November 01, 2001}

“Come on, buddy, wake up!”

I sat bolt upright from the voice. I could barely focus and my head was groggy from the suddenness of my waking up, but there was a stranger in my bed and my first impression was that he wasn’t there last night when I fell asleep.

“Who the hell are you?”

I was irritated because I’d been on a binge of insomnia, self-induced by my addiction to surfing the Internet after hours. I’d intended to catch up on my sleep by going to bed early and making sure I had a good night’s rest for this up coming week. But here was some stranger, another man, shaking me and waking me up.

I could immediately sense the solidness and the warmth from his body; he was about my size, I could tell, so I wasn’t dreaming. In fact, I’d just awoken from a very deep sleep and as soon as my mind righted itself from sleep, I realized very quickly that I was very rested and very aware of my surroundings, so I relaxed a bit. But something was not right.

First of all, his extra weight in the bed threw the shape of the old mattress all to kilter so I had to balance myself by throwing an arm behind me, making me a little defenseless if this stranger should change his calm demeanor. Then there was the issue of the covers, which had been pulled back. He was also on my left, toward the wall, so he had to have climbed over me to get into position lying beside me.

The light was dim but it was bright enough to see him close beside me. Oddly, his features struck me as very familiar and I began feeling an odd sensation of dread. He had a long, broad face with big deep eyes that seemed to fade to gray in the dull light. His hair was shoulder length without bangs, like mine, and he wore side burns down to the bottom of his ears.

In the dim light his hair seemed black and set off his handsome features in a way that I immediately felt a swelling in my crotch. He had a long firm jaw that made me feel confident in anything he might say and his lips, although not full or voluptuous, were well formed and definitely kissable. As soon as he saw that I was immediately awake he smiled which brought out dimples in his cheeks that softened the sharpness of his features.

“You sure are crabby in the morning,” he said.

He reached over and knocked me off balance, as I feared, and in one swift move rolled me over so I was facing away from him and wrapped strong muscular arms around me in a bear hug. I was suddenly seized with panic as I realized he was much stronger than I and my only recourse was to surrender to him, which only made me want to fight his embrace. I could feel his warm muscular body against my back and almost immediately recapitulated, because I decided, if I was to surrender to anyone, I would to this muscular beauty.

I went limp in his embrace and looked across the room at my writing desk and the poster on the wall of "Aquaman", nothing in particular. I could smell a faint odor of sweat and spice and couldn’t tell if it was coming off him or was just the characteristic smell of my small apartment, which occasionally was unfamiliar when I changed incense or cooked something new in my kitchen. He was only hugging me, after all.

“To answer your question, I’m guessing I’m your better half, which is assuming you belong in my bed.”

He’d released his grip on me, so I twisted around to face him.

“What do you mean, ‘You’re my better half.’ I’ve lived by myself for five years now and I don’t remember any whirlwind romance last night. What are you doing in my bed?”

“I could ask you the same question. I’ve been lying here beside you for the past ten minutes trying to figure out why someone who slightly resembled me has materialized next to me and the only thing I can think of is that we are the same person, only we’ve split into two halves. I’m your ego and you’re my id.”

Oh, this was a little too mind-boggling this early in the morning. Somehow a man who slightly resembles myself, only much more handsome and physically fit suddenly appears in the bed I’ve been sleeping in for the past three years? But here we are, wearing practically the same tank top and Calvin Klein pajama pants, lying in the same bed.

Now that I could get a good look at him he didn’t really resemble me at all. I was skinny and lanky. His frame, although the proportions were similar, was broad and massive. He had pectoral muscles that were well defined and filled out the small tank t-shirt he wore. His abdominal were also well defined which peeked out from under the short edge of the shirt. His biceps and forearms were veiny and looked as if he’d been pulling boats since he was ten, bulging with corded strings of muscle. His waist was no bigger around than my own thirty-two inch waist and looked tiny in comparison to all his muscle and although they were covered his legs were clearly developed and powerful.

In comparison, I was a one hundred and fifty-five pound weakling with flabby muscle tone and no desire to exercise. If this was my ego then I wanted to switch places. He was one healthy and sexy dude.

“What make you so sure?” I countered. I wasn’t so sure I was going to accept this deceptively easy answer.

Word count: 974.
posted by Nathan Kibler 10:34 AM

{Friday, November 02, 2001}


“Well, you’d have to have a key to get in the door and I’m a light sleeper. I would have heard you come into the apartment. You don’t strike me as that stealthy. And there is this…”

He looked at me as if he was a little constipated and then suddenly I heard his voice quite loudly between my ears only his lips weren’t moving.

“I can talk to you with my mind. Pretty cool, huh?”

I was quite surprised and the morning wood that I’d felt earlier was totally forgotten by now.

“How did you figure that out?” I burst out.

“You know, you dream pretty loud, you know,” he said aloud. “It wasn’t hard to figure out, with you dreaming about work.”

“Dreaming about work? But, I wasn’t dreaming…I was sound asleep until you shook me awake.”

“You certainly were. You were dreaming about that older guy who always comes in with requests for special products and flirts with you, only I think you could do better…”

It was true. I’d been slightly anxious before I awoke and although I didn’t remember dreaming anything so specific. I’d been creeped out by various attentive customers I didn’t know how to handle except to be very polite and not spend too much time helping them. And the one’s I wish would ask me for help only look at me with moon eye’s over the counter and I never see them again.

“You can read my mind?” I asked eyeing him and wondering if I could do the same back.

“No, I don’t think so, but I can read what you think very loudly. I imagine you could do the same.”

So I decided to try his experiment and concentrated on thinking “very loudly.”

‘So, can you hear me now?’ I thought. He smiled and shook his head. ‘Now!’ I thought a little louder. He lifted an eyebrow. I shouted with my mind. ‘Now can you hear me?’

He burst out laughing and nodded his head. Then reached out to me. “So anyway, I’m going for a run. You coming with me?”

The change of subject dazed me for a second. Run? Now? We’d just started figuring out what was going on and this guy wants to run… He started to get up from the bed and climb over me.

“Now wait a minute, …uh, guy, what is your name anyway? Unless we have the same name.”

“Ben,” he simply said jumping onto the floor and steadying himself. “You’re Nathan for some reason, and I’m Benjamin.”

This was all too much. “So, how do you know my name if you can’t read my thoughts?”

“I just do,” and he smiled his dimpled smile and shrugged. Then he turned and walked to the bathroom. This was when I saw his ass, his perfect rounded ass. Two mounds of firm, muscular flesh that bulged and bunches as he walked away in his cream-colored pajama pants with the little pocket in back with a circle of writing.

I was in love and suddenly was seized with the desire to do every filthy, sexy, delirious thing one could do with one’s face and tongue to that butt.

“Hey, Ben, where are you going? Get that fabulous butt back here I want to bury my face in it.”

He turned back and looked at me quizzically.

“You want to do what?”

Suddenly I had that sinking feeling that I’d said the wrong thing and here I’d just met myself. If he were my ego, wouldn’t he feel the same way about me that I did to him? I made the quick decision to forge ahead. Maybe he just didn’t hear me right.

“Uh, you know, you’ve just given me morning wood looking at that body of yours and I thought, you know…we could get it on…”

He smiled, but this time with his head cocked to the left as if he needed to look at me from a different angle.

“You’ve got me wrong, buddy…I know you’re queer, but not me. I don’t get into your groove, if you know what I mean.” He looked like he was sad to disappoint me, but then this was almost too weird for me to question him further.

“But, but, but…” I stuttered, my woodie sinking.

He cut me off.

“I gotta piss.” And left the room.

I sat on the edge of my bed piecing things together. “So, you are my ego…my alter-ego, and you’re straight? How can that be?”

I looked around the dim room, which looked fine to me at first, but then as I looked around I began to realize there were one or two things different. For one there was a little too much room between my bed and the writing desk. And there weren’t any books piled on it. In fact there was quite a bit more room everywhere, and the place seemed cleaner.

I could hear Ben pissing in the toilet, but I had to clear one or two things up. My mind was racing. I popped open a couple of drawers on the writing desk and confirmed that my Tom of Finland rubber stamps were there. But everything was so much neater. I turned around and realized that there was no drafting board where I’d placed it under the windows and there were no candles and knick-knacks sitting on the windowsills like I always had.

Looking over my houseplant table there seemed to be more plants. I knew I didn’t own a Christmas cactus, but there in the center of the table was a huge one just sprouting several flower buds. And the table was different, about the same height and size of the metal typewriting desk I used to use, but this one was made of blonde pine. Ugh! Pine furniture, how gauche!

Word Count: 1,950.
posted by Nathan Kibler 12:19 AM


I stepped into the kitchen as I heard him flush the toilet. The kitchen was way different.

First of all there was another, larger pine table and matching folding chairs. More gauche! Then the counter, which was tiled in black and white instead of institution green, was clean and empty of everything except my toaster, my mini crock pot and CuisenArt and my coffee pot. There was a metal bar installed on the wall with pots and pans hanging off it and a modular set of pine shelves was propped up against the back wall filled with cans and boxes all neatly arranged.

The room extended along the side of the building giving me another extra window instead of extending back toward the bathroom like it usually did. I began to wonder where all this room came from. Did the building, which was built on the edge of a hill that had been cut away for the freeway to go past, now extend out into the freeway or did it cut off the street in front of the building now? The space had to come from somewhere I reasoned.

An odd noise coming from the main room of my little, newly expanded, studio brought my attention back to Benjamin. I walked back in to find him doing sit-ups in the middle of the floor.

“Come join me,” he said between crunches.

“No way,” I answered. I was considering crawling back into bed, but the odd presence of this stranger was throwing off my whole ability to cope. “I need more rest.”

“Rest, schmest,” he retorted, punctuating each phrase with a crunch. “You will never…get anywhere…in life…if you don’t…seize the day…and prepare yourself... for the world.”

“You sound like my mother,” I said plopping down on the edge of my bed realizing that I needed to pee as well, but would have to climb over him to get to the bathroom.

He rolled onto his stomach and started push-up reps. “I could be, you don’t seem to take care of yourself well.”

I took umbrage to this. “I do very well, thank you.” Actually this was a lie because over the course of the last year I’d been unemployed, through several minor depressions where I wouldn’t leave the house, wash or dress myself and generally a television-watching slug. But he didn’t have to know that.

As if he read my thoughts he countered, “I don’t have to know what you’re thinking to know that you don’t take very good care of yourself. Look at you, you’re pretty scrawny, even for a writer.”

“That’s easy for you to say, mister ‘good-genes.’”

While shifting his weight to his left hand he swung his right behind his back and started pumping out one-armed push ups, ignoring me.

“Man,” I said exasperated, “I can’t compete with you. You’ve got it all, looks, muscles, discipline…I’m afraid to ask, you probably have a Swiss bank account.”

That made him smile and he stopped at an extended lift.

“No, I don’t have a Swiss bank account. And I doubt my genes are any different than yours. Haven’t you noticed a resemblance?”

He switched hands and started lifting with his right arm.

“I was thinking that was just chance. But I don’t look anything like you…”

He stopped his exercise and stood up. He’d taken off the tank and pajama pants and stood in black briefs. A faint blush infused his brow from his exertion. I looked into his limpid gray eyes wondering how something so beautiful could profess to be straight. How cruel this brave new world.

“Of course you don’t, you don’t exercise. Now come on, I want to go for a run…are you going to join me?”

“Not if you’re going like that,” motioning to his nearly naked body. He even looked to be a full head taller than me. Damn! How could that be?

“Of course not,” he said screwing the corner of his mouth up into sardonic smile. “I’m sure we have enough exercise clothes between us both to wear something appropriate. And anyway it’s raining out and I don’t plan to freeze.”

My first inclination was to turn him down, but I was already intrigued and felt this incredible urge to learn everything I could about him and why he was so different, if as he claimed I was his “id”. Hmmm, I didn’t really like the implications of that comparison.

I suddenly flashed on that stereotypical image of the devil and the angel on the shoulders of the protagonist. Here I was wearing the horns and my six foot tall friend was wearing a halo and wings, only I was wishing it was the other way around. My devil snatched the halo and wings and the angel grew horns and cloven hoofs.

Ben was rummaging around in the closet which didn’t look like it had grown like the rest of the apartment and so I walked into the bathroom where the light was left on. I was suddenly dazzled by the brilliance of the light and the shiny white of everything. The porcelain gleamed and the chrome reflected all the light. There seemed to be at least a foot more room in the space and my same large mirror filled the wall to the right, only unlike the mirror I remembered installing, this on was tall enough for me to take in every thing except my feet.

Word Count: 905
posted by Nathan Kibler 11:18 AM


There I was reflected in the mirror. My thin, flabby arms, my narrow, undeveloped torso. I was a pitiful specimen with my clothes off. That’s why I’d begun coloring my hair blue. I did have a handsome face and people couldn’t help but notice my brilliantly colored hair. I figured they’d remember my face better if they had the blue hair as a reminder.

Anyway it wasn’t any big deal really, I liked the attention my hair brought me. But I conceded I could look better naked if I only exercised. Still, I didn’t look ugly and as far as skinny boys went I wasn’t bad to look at. Ah, sweet vanity!

The only reason I would exercise was so I wasn’t wane or zaftig. I would only do it so I didn’t feel self conscious when I was around other gay men. It never changed how people reacted to me, and it never made me feel like I should be more gregarious.

Only a year before I had been on the obese end of my vanity. I’d been living with a man who was alcoholic and whose diet had been a combination of large portions of Chinese food and Velveeta, not at the same time, though. He ate Velveeta like it was it’s own food group, which considering its shelf life might actually be true. Naturally I was unhappy with the relationship, the drinking colored the relationship from the start, and I asuassed my pangs with food just like he did, only I eschewed heavily fatty foods.

I proudly showed my photo ID to everyone who’d look at it asking them to compare the picture to my present self. I didn’t look anything like I did a year ago. I’d started to loose weight almost immediately, but as soon as I’d quit my job as a receptionist for a dental clinic, then the weight loss took off in earnest.

I was dropping from ten to seven pounds a month and as I neared my goal I worried that I wouldn’t be able to stop my weight’s downward decent. I imagined myself in a few more months gaunt and corpse-like, but the weight loss slowed and eventually wavered between one fifty and one sixty.

Friends who hadn’t seen me in sometime queried my health, expressing shock when I insisted that I was well and not suffering from any wasting disease. But I felt much better about myself at least until Benjamin came along.

He walked into the bathroom noticing my attention on the mirror.

“You spend a little too much time thinking about how you look and not enough time doing something about it,” he stated while handing me gray sweat pants and an over sized navy sweater.

“Okay, okay, I’ll do something about it. Where are we going to run?”

He’d changed into some red Nike running shoes and a black Nike running suit with racing stripes along the arms and down the outer legs. They looks very new.

Word count: 501, total: 3356
posted by Nathan Kibler 11:54 PM

{Saturday, November 03, 2001}


“I was thinking along the freeway and up the hill to Volunteer Park, then along fifteenth and back down Pine Street.” He leaned against the edge of the doorframe to the small bathroom expectantly.

“Uhm, could I have some privacy?” The thought of him watching me dress was a little unsettling in light of my own feelings of inadequacy. I didn’t care who he was, ego, alter-ego or otherwise, I didn’t really like feeling naked in front of him unless something physical was going to come from it, which he’d already negated.

He didn’t seem to care about my discomfort because his response was,

“What’s the matter? You can dress in front of me can’t you? It’s not like you could impress me or anything.”

“Well! That is exactly the point,” I said and I closed the door to the small room.

“Don’t take too long. I’m already ready and I’m not going to wait for you if you take too long.”

“Whatever,” I retorted.

“Do you want to go with me? You don’t sound like you do.”

This irritated me. Now he was assuming my reluctance meant I wasn’t willing to take his ridiculous uphill running route which I hadn’t yet had a chance to reason with him and now it sounded like he’d rather I just stayed behind. But I didn’t want him to have the upper hand, so I just struggled into the sweats leaving the pajama bottoms on beneath them and pulling the sweater over the top.

I opened the door where he was standing with a hand on his hip and a slightly pained expression on his face like I was inconveniencing him. I held out a hand to him.

“Can you hand me my running shoes, pretty please?”

“I don’t know where they are?”

I let out an exasperated sigh and pushed beside him into the walk-in closet. I had to also push aside a wooden bead curtain he’d obviously installed in the doorway to match the furniture in the kitchen. Even more gauche.

I flicked the switch and immediately noticed how neat and organized everything was. On the left, several shirts, pants and coats in grouped colors hung neatly on a pole. Wire organizers and bins filled and labeled to indicate what they contained filled the area to the right. A full sized wardrobe replaced the small set of drawers I used to put my clothes in.

“Do you live here or do I?” I asked Ben, in reaction to the fact that now I found myself in distinctly unfamiliar territory with clothes I totally did not recognize. I opened one of the doors of the wardrobe, which I noted was a very nice, nineteen forties, art deco styled cabinet with black trim inlay. On the floor inside I did see several shoes, some I recognized, most I did not. There were a couple of clothes bags also hanging and a full length mirror on the inside of the door. Opening the other door I found several more shoes on a shoe caddy and several folded shirts and sweaters.

“As far as I can tell,” Ben replied through the doorway, “we both live here. Some things are from my life and some things are from your life. It seems so weird that so many things are moved around.”

I closed the wardrobe and looked in a couple of the bins but couldn’t find any more shoes, let alone my old Nike runners that I’d spray painted silver and gold at Burning Man. I remember saving them from an old lover who’d taken an immediate dislike to them because, as he said, they were old and ugly and were about to throw them out when we bought new running shoes for me.

“So where would you put my runners?” I thought out loud, half expecting Ben to understand that I wasn’t exactly talking to him.

“I told you, I don’t know.”

“Yeah, I heard you and I wasn’t addressing that to you,” I replied.

I had a feeling where they might be and I believed if I could just focus on the intuition I could go right to where they were.

“Come on, if you don’t hurry I’m just going to leave.”

He was really pushing my buttons, as only someone who’s lived with me knows how and I was beginning to loose my temper.

“Look,” I said with a bit of shortness, “I can’t go running without shoes. Either help me find the shoes or just shut up a minutes so I can suss where they are. I know they are somewhere nearby.”

I heard him sigh and then go into the main room to sit while I focused. Suddenly I realized I’d put them away for a bit in my “cleaning closet”, an odd little built in set of shelves that were just outside the walk-in closet. But as I was turning I noticed there were a numerous number of blue shirts hanging together on the closet pole. I reached up to pull one over enough to determine the design and purpose. Above the breast pocket was embroidered my last name and I immediately recognized the cut and design of the shirt as one of a police officer.

I took down the shirt on its hanger in amazement. New ideas were beginning to dawn on me. I rushed out to Ben with the shirt.

“You are a police officer?” I said incredulously.

“Yeah…I’m going to have to do my run here soon, buddy, because I have to report to the station by eight o’clock.”

“But then how can you be some alter-ego of mine? I am so “not” a police officer.”

“Look, I don’t know, I barely even know what you are…some kind of writer or artist or something. I’ve been noticing all these journals and stuff. Man, what do you do all day? Sit in coffee houses and compose poetry and such?”

“…and such!” I repeated emphatically not wanting to explore the reality of that statement right at that moment. Then I turned and tossed the shirt between the beaded curtain onto a coat hook on the wall and then opened the cleaning closet. There was a familiar jumble of cleaning products and paraphernalia that represented my preparedness for the apartment, light bulbs, bicycle locks that I never could get rid off, and in the back I saw what I was looking for: a Nike shoe box containing my running shoes.

“Ah, ha!” I exclaimed. I popped open the box and proceeded to slip the shoes on and tie them on my feet.

“You find them already?”

“yes, we can leave.” I opened the door to my apartment and then realized I didn’t have my keys. “where are the keys to the apartment…do you have them?”

Ben walked up to me. “I only found these…” He was holding a strange assortment of keys on a ring with a little pewter Ahnk attached as a fob. “there’s only one front door key and apartment door key. And I can’t find the key to my work locker.”

“Hmmm, this proposes a dilemma for us both. If we are going to be living together how are we going to share keys. I wonder if the landlord will allow us to live here simultaneously?”

“We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it,” he said walking out the opened door.

I followed him and allowed him to lock the door behind us, but I did feel a little naked without any keys or wallet. Thoughts of resulting headlines flashed in my head—“Unknown resident found dead in park, Police suspect officer in possible spat over apartment keys”. I shrugged them off hoping I wasn’t being foolish.

We walked through the building and out through the front door. I didn’t notice anything different or odd until we got out on the street and I realized that Yale, the street I’d lived on for six years of my life no longer existed. Instead it looked like the building sat in the middle of Melrose instead of being set back from it. You see, Yale was a dead-end street that afforded a quite a bit of parking for the neighborhood. Naturally to make up for all the new space in my apartment something had to change.

Word Count: 1390, total:4,746
posted by Nathan Kibler 11:58 PM

{Sunday, November 04, 2001}


It is difficult to describe the street configuration that I remembered because Yale came in to Melrose at an extreme angle, but it is also inconsequential because now the whole street had a distinctly different feel. Cars were whizzing by and I noticed a new store front in between my apartment building and the next building. I couldn’t see Queen Anne Hill any more either.

Ben turned right and headed in the opposite direction I’d expected, away from where I’d seen the new store front I’d wanted to investigate and in the opposite direction from where I thought Volunteer Park should be.

“Hey, where are you going?”

He half turned to answer me but kept walking. “Just follow me. I know where I’m headed.”

I jogged to catch up with him because he hadn’t yet started running.

“I thought you wanted to jog through Volunteer Park. Isn’t that in the opposite direction?”

This stopped him in his tracks and he looked back the way we had come.

“No, it ought to be this way…shouldn’t it? This whole street is totally wonko.”

“Yeah, that is what I was thinking.”

Looking in the direction we were headed there should have been an intersection with Pine street, but instead the street continued on down a steep hill. Turning in the other direction revealed the crest of a hill with unfamiliar buildings on both side and again no intersection. Ben started heading down the hill, then stopped again and came back.

“This is wrong. I don’t like the feel of this,” he said almost to himself.

“Well, let’s pick a direction and see what we can find out.”

He continued walking past me and again I had to follow to catch up. We walk past the front of the apartment building we’d come out of. Its façade was familiar, if out of place on the street. The store front I’d noticed was a small grocery with baskets of produce setting on crates under the front windows. The sign stated, “Samuel’s Grocery”. I was beginning to wonder if somehow we’d time traveled to a point before the ubiquitous freeway that supposedly ran behind the building was built, but I remembered from pictures I’d seen that there was a laundry and a garage next door, not a grocer.

“Well,” stated Benjamin emphatically, “this direction looks open, let’s try heading this way and see where it takes us…I wonder if we are in the same city anymore.”


The whole day was turning out strange and since this was the direction I’d first expected we’d be taking I wasn’t about to try changing Ben’s mind. He took off jogging at a brisk pace and I followed him, wondering why I was even attempting to follow him now. He was obviously in better shape than I was and I knew within a block or so I’d have to slow down. Still this was stimulating and despite the unfamiliarity of the street I was beginning to like running behind this tall handsome brute.

The air was cool and although it had been raining and the street was gray and slick with rain there wasn’t any precipitation currently. I ran down the street behind Ben and managed to keep up. After what seemed like twice a city block we finally came to an intersection with a light. Ben was jogging in place waiting for the light to change before he crossed the street.

“Are you doing alright?” he asked, blowing clouds of steam from his mouth.

“I’m okay.”

At this intersection there was a café, a Laundromat, an apartment building and a beauty salon, respectively. I didn’t recognize any of them and was about to ask Ben if he did when the light changed and we were running across the street which headed uphill. As we alighted on the other side I happened to notice a street sign that identified the crossing street as Denny, which thankfully was a familiar name even if the street was not familiar.

“Does any of this look familiar to you?” I asked, puffing out each word as I followed his footsteps uphill.

“No, do you recognize it?” he replied.

“Only the street name.” And he looked back to catch the same street sign I’d noticed.

“Denny, old Mister Denny, who tore down most of Capital Hill to fill the tidewater flats. Do you think because we are simultaneously existing in this time-space that history like the redesigning of the hills of Seattle didn’t happen? It would explain a lot of things.”

“Well, you seem to have all the answers,” I retorted.

We continued running in silence for a while and as we continued up the hill I began to notice buildings that were more familiar and store fronts that actually resembled store fronts I remembered. At Summit, I realized that I’d really get my bearings if I could see where Olive Way joined up with John street, that is if there was an Olive Way and John street.

“Why don’t we follow Summit down. I want to see what the next street over is.”

“Okay,” he said and jogged across the street at the light change. The buildings weren’t familiar but on the corner of Summit and John there was a large Starbucks. Benjamin chuckled to himself as he recognized the familiar logo of the woman holding two fish tales in water.

“If in doubt, navigate by the Starbucks stores.”

“But shouldn’t it be somewhere in the middle of that last block?” I asked.

“At this point I am not questioning anything.” He turned the corner and continued past the parking lot that filled the remaining block behind the Starbucks.

At the next corner, Belmont crossed as I suspected it would. Across the street was one of my favorite coffee houses, B&O Espresso, a European styled coffee house that still allowed smoking in one of its rooms. When I’d first moved to Seattle I’d lived in an artist’s loft that was only two doors down from the shop.

“You know…” Both Ben and I started speaking in unison and looked at each other suddenly realizing we were both thinking the same thing. We simultaneously burst out laughing. He pointed at me with a big grin on his face.

“You were going to tell me about the artist’s loft, weren’t you!” he exclaimed.

“You tell everyone about that too, don’t you?” I replied.

“Yup, yup, right after I finished with the police academy and moved here I lived there. It was the best time in my life.”

He started up the hill some more with me trailing him. I was feeling quite flushed but the exertion felt good. I hadn’t been out running for over a year and missed the simple pleasures it afforded.

“I can’t say that it was the best time in my life,” I replied, “but I have to admit I had a lot of fun there. You must have known Tod then.”

“No, don’t remember a ‘Tod,’ there was a Tamara, who I was mad about, she always colored her hair blue, like yours. It took a while for her to warm up to me. I don’t think she liked the fact that I was a police rookie. Turned out that she was a transsexual and I never realized it the whole time living with her.”

“How odd that we seem to have different memories about the same people. I’m still very much in love with Tod, even though we were never physical while he was alive.”

We were nearing Broadway and the buildings were finally looking very familiar, but I was very much out of breath and found I had to slow down and walk now. Ben turned to look back at me then kept walking ahead. I jogged faster to catch up.

“I need to walk for a while or else I won’t make it.”

“We could jog around the reservoir if you’d rather. I think I might be running late for work if we take the route I planned and we still haven’t figured out what we are doing about the apartment keys.”

“Did you bring your wallet?” I asked.

“Yes, didn’t you bring yours?”

I smiled patronizingly. “We only seem to have one weird set of keys. I doubt we have more than one weird wallet between us.”

“Okay, let’s take a minute at the locksmith then and you’ll have a set of keys for yourself.”

“That would be a good idea if you can convince them to copy the key, but don’t our keys have warnings not to copy?”

Ben held up the key ring and sectioned off keys. “The front door key does, but the apartment key doesn’t. You can trust me to be home by the time you are off work to let you in.”

“Okay, but I don’t have any money to buy keys with.”

“No problem, I’ll take care of everything.”

By now we’d crossed Broadway and were walking into familiar territory. Unfortunately the locksmith wasn’t open for another two hours, so we trotted down to the reservoir and ran a couple of laps. The track was wet and the wind blew across the water from the north chilling the air in the southwest corner. Blackbirds sat on the chain-link fence chiding the various runners headed around the track that day.

The minute we got there Benjamin took off at a full run leaving me in the dust, as if I’d been holding him back the whole jog up the hill. I kept my own pace knowing that I’d never catch up with him. He’d call out to me every time he passed me and I’d watch his wonderful ass recede into the distance as he ran.

As soon as I made one lap I began to seriously fatigue and I had to break my pace into a walk. My right foot, the one that pronates inwards, was beginning to ache slightly like the shoe was tied too tightly. Walking seemed to ease the tension some and I managed to walk around the track two more times before I noticed Ben veering off the track and stretching some while I made my way to him.

We walked down Pine Street to check out how the city was reconfigured along that street and didn’t notice anything different until we passed Summit again. It was if a whole section of the city was overlayed with something entirely new. I was reminded of the movie “Dark City” where aliens controlled the lives of humans by gradually altering the human’s environment based on their memories. The aliens were attempting to recreate memories for themselves although they didn’t have that ability inherently.

“Did you ever see that movie, “Dark City?” Ben was asking me that. I was startled out of my thinking.

“Yes, I was just thinking about that. The way this neighborhood is so different and dovetails with where we are familiar is just like how the city grew and changed in that movie. Not to change to subject, but I was also wondering when you decided to become a police officer and how? I’ve never had that desire in my whole life and it boggles my mind that you would, although you seem to be contradictory to me in many ways.”

We were walking down Pine Street in the block between Bellevue and Melrose but oddly enough there was a third street coming into the intersection at an odd angle from the south. It was named “White Rabbit” and I was immediately struck with the implications of that name. I turned and looked at Benjamin.

“Do you feel our lives here are parallel for a reason? I almost feel like someone is playing with us. That street there for instance.” I pointed at the sign which read “White Rabbit.”

“Does that have the same meaning to you that it does for me?”

“White Rabbit is a slang term for drugs. Why would they name a street for a drug?”

I sighed audibly. He didn’t see the connection that I did. Ben was definitely cut from different cloth than myself. I’d grown up idolizing Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland” and “Through the Lookinglass” and this odd street pointed to this connection.

“It’s not just a term for drugs. It refers to many things but they all point to “Alice in Wonderland” and the creation myth of the egg-laying rabbit, an ancient symbol and Celtic fertility god. I wonder what I’ll find if I walk down White Rabbit Street?”

Ben looked distractedly at his watch. “Whatever you want to do, kid. I have to get to work. Don’t you have a job?”

“Sure, I work retail, but I wonder if we both have jobs in this world. You seem to be at odds with this new configuration of the city as much as I do. You can go to work if you want but I want explore what this all means. I think I can get away with one sick day this year.”

I walked him back to the apartment and looked for a work schedule to see if I was even working that day. I couldn’t find anything in the apartment. The kitchen was clean and the refridgerator was full so I started a breakfast of a four egg omlet and hash browns. Benjamin walked into the kitchen tying his tie around his collar.

“Wow, thanks for fixing breakfast. This is going to make the difference between being early and late.”

“Don’t be too sure, buddy. I don’t do dishes. You’re going to have to clean them up.”

He smiled at my impudence then replied, “that’s fine by me, I like doing dishes and I hate cooking. We are going to get along like two peas in a pod.”

“We are kind of opposite each other, aren’t we?”

Word Count:2313, total: 7059.
posted by Nathan Kibler 10:35 PM

{Monday, November 05, 2001}


“Which brings us back to your question from before...”

He reached into a drawer and pulled out a red apron to put over his work clothes and then sat down at the place setting I’d put out began to eat the omelet, toast, orange juice and coffee.

“I became a police officer because there is not enough law and order in the world. I believe that justice starts in the streets, not in the courthouse and until society feels comfortable with their everyday existence then I want to be there, helping them feel safer.”

I put my half of the breakfast on a plate and sat down to eat. I was famished from the run. In between bites Ben talked to me gesturing with the fork in a relaxed manner that made me wonder where he got the calm and reserve to handle waking up in bed with a total stranger, or at least an unfamiliar one. It probably applied well to his daily job.

“Wouldn’t you have been better in psychology or as a psychiatrist?”

“Well, it is funny you should ask because my first degree was in sociology. I wanted to figure out why a friend in High School was so much intrigued in psychiatry and I thought sociology was a more applicable science. Once I graduated I felt that I could do more to help people and police work seemed the best way to do the on hands sort of work I wanted.”

He obliged me by filling the sink with the day’s dishes and proceeding to wash them and put them into the draining rack (pine as well) to dry. It was a little odd looking at him in his blue shirt and black pants, looking very masculine with an apron on. The air in the kitchen exuded a utilitarian domesticity that I immediately wished to maintain. This might be the sort of relationship with another man I’d been seeking my whole life.

I since I had made a full pot of coffee, a luxury for myself usually, I poured myself another cup touching it off with the small creamer I’d found in the cupboard.

“Wow, a ‘penny-philosopher’. So why didn’t you go into social work?” It seemed specious that he would feel so humanitarian and yet do work that potentially criminalized people than simply helped them.

“What was that?” he retorted. “A ‘penny’ what?” He turned away from the sink to look at me, holding a plate in one rubber gloved hand. I could have kissed him outright, but I held back on the influence.

“You sound so altruistic, wanting to help people feel more comfortable with their environment and yet you picked a potentially violent occupation. Hasn’t that occurred to you?”

“Well, my decision had more to do with my good grades and avoiding my dad’s admonition to join the Navy. Didn’t your dad come from a military background?”

“Yes, he did, but he never pushed me to join. I’ve always felt like I could do whatever I wanted in the world. Then again, if Dad had pushed me I’d have been more likely to prove myself in something entirely opposite like animation or acting. As it was, he only pushed me to go to school which made me want to go even less.”

Ben looked at his watch and stated that he needed to leave for work. So within minutes I was left alone in the apartment for the first time since I awoke that morning. I’d been exercised and feed, like a favored pet, and Ben had promised me he would be able to drop a copy of the apartment key by within a few hours. I had not showered yet and realized I was pretty stinky from the run so I walked into the bathroom.

Not having explored it very well before I realized that it was obviously cleaned more often than I know I cleaned my apartment, but so many items were familiar that I felt a guilty pleasure by considering the belongings mine. Still, there was only one of everything and everything right down to the toothbrush had been used already, so I looked in my supply closet where I usually kept extras of things I needed and found not only a fresh toothbrush but a full new razor handle and blades.

I also found a clean towel in the walk-in closet and a clean robe hanging on a hanger on the clothes rail. I admired the wardrobe some more. Even though it was made from a pale wood, I found it very pretty and aesthetic.

Obviously, Ben made a helluva lot more money than I did. I began to entertain the thought that he might be willing to support my more creative endeavors by allowing me to stay at home writing, but then the thought that he might not want to live with another person, no matter how compatible I was. This was a relatively small studio apartment even with all the additional space.

I was beginning to wonder if I’d want to continue living with him in my space. I hadn’t yet explored the apartment enough to determine if I could find important things, although so far the décor outside of the kitchen and the walk-in was more my design than his, well at least it seemed to be.

I switched into the robe and then wandered back into the main living space to examine its contents. My Buddhist shrine was still there, oddly free of incense dust, although several boxes remained at the side. There were a few chotkes scattered around the central Buddha figure but not as many as I remembered.

To the right of the shrine and along the wall was my red bookshelf filled with books, videos and music CDs. To the left along the wall there was my UW science department bookshelf (very sturdy) also filled with books. But beside that was a short pinewood stand that held an unfamiliar cordless phone in black. On the shelves of the stand were respectively a memo block pad and below two phone books.

The screen that separated the shrine from the rest of the apartment remained a divider and amazingly there was enough room for it to stretch out to its full length, until I realized that it was short a panel, which meant the pattern of columns painted on it was off-kilter.

My computer seemed the same but the desk it sat on was new and oddly free of paper, unlike I would have had it. Also it was finished in a light maple color, with a file drawer underneath. It seemed that my comic books had migrated into a black metal steamer that I didn’t recognize sitting to the left of the computer.

To right of the computer desk there was a large console finished in the same maple wood that held a flat screen monitor on its front and after opening the cabinet below and discovering a huge collection of DVDs and videos, I managed to figure out the monitor was mounted on cantilevered door that swung up to reveal the multimedia components, all things I’d sold this summer to make fast cash but amazingly remaining here in my possession.

There was definitely more room in the apartment because beside the entertainment console there was my old gray metal filing cabinet. I popped a couple of drawers open suddenly feeling guilty for snooping, but again was amazed that the papers were all labeled and filed, as if I’d done it myself. Benjamin couldn’t have been a closet writer was he? He didn’t seem to have that focus, that was my territory, but here were all my papers organized as only I would have organized them if I’d had the time.

My guilt was growing because I felt like an interloper in my own life. Here was the stability and the companionship I’d been longing for all my life and one day I just wake up into it?

“Am I dreaming?” I thought aloud to the room. I stood in front of my writing desk realizing that it was all set out with utensils and supplies for writing. There were even my diaries lined up and dated on the broad shelf that formed the top of the desk. I sat down at the desk feeling it beckoning to me. I touched its warm worn wood surface, running my hand along the clean organized writing area. It was almost thrilling in an eerie way to think I could start writing immediately if I felt the urge and went with it.

I sat down in the wooden chair with the old green fabric covered foam rubber cushion and then happened to look up. hanging about two and a half feet Directly above my head was my purple Vietnamese Silk lamp I’d carted home from my day job and proudly installed in this corner.

According to Feng Shui, which I’d consulted when I organized my room, this corner was my “prosperity” corner and needed objects that were colored purple. All summer at my job at a local hardware/interior decorating store I had coveted one of these lamps although I did not know how I could afford the thirty to fifty dollars the various sized lamps were priced nor could I see how it could fit into my tiny little apartment. Then one day, this lamp was taken off the floor and placed in the “free pile” because it had broken some spokes and was generally shop worn. It was covered in a luminescent purple brocade that had worn where the interior bamboo spokes were broken, but I still fell in love with it and joyfully carried it home despite it’s flaws.

It hung very well in that corner which shared a window to the outside world and I imagined people walking by outside could see it and remark on how tastefully appointed my lamp made my poor apartment seem. It was shaped like those Chinese lantern plants that you see often with translucent papery seed pods, with a diamond shape that was smoothed by the curve of the bamboo spokes.

Word Count:1694, Total:8753
posted by Nathan Kibler 10:33 PM

{Wednesday, November 07, 2001}


Sitting under the lamp should focus chi from the room onto my head and anchor this corner of the room. The purple color of the silk was supposed to enhance my prosperity. I had hoped that it would encourage me to write at my desk but the desk had been so covered in unorganized papers that I never sat there. Now, with Benjamin’s influence I might be able to write.

My job at the hardware store didn’t start for a couple of hours, and I figured if Benjamin didn’t show up with the key I’d just call in sick. I didn’t want to get locked out. So I figured I had an hour or two to write. It occurred to me that having another person around might prove difficult organizing my time for writing.

I stood up and walked to my computer and turned it on. Waiting for it to boot up, I walked to the gray file cabinets and opened the first drawer. Rifling through the folders I realized that this first drawer mostly contained insurance and financial paperwork, not my writing. The second drawer contained what looked like my writing. There was my partially written novel, there was an article on perfume I wrote, along with several different drafts.

The next drawer contained writing I’d collected from other writers. Someday I would track them all down as an editor and publish their writing. I was about to open the bottom drawer when I noticed that the computer was stopped at the log in screen. I hit enter like I always did and Windows 98 finished loading. The wallpaper was a painting by Monet, one of his ‘water lilies’ paintings.

I immediately clicked open the ‘my computer’ icon and took a look at the system configuration. There was my ‘C:’ drive but right below was another disk, ‘D:’ that was grayed out. Interesting. It seemed Ben had a partition that he didn’t want me to have access to.

I clicked on my ‘C:’ icon to examine its contents. Most of my personal files seemed to be there, but there was a lot of extraneous stuff missing. Also I only seemed to have access to half the drive memory. Apparently Ben had divided the partitions equally, but how would he know to do that?

Word Count: 384, Total: 9137
posted by Nathan Kibler 11:20 AM

{Thursday, November 08, 2001}


He could have done it just as a matter of course. But I didn’t know him enough to tell the difference…or did I? I noticed the time in the lower corner of the computer. I should make up my mind whether I was going to call in sick or go to work today. It was Wednesday was it? Or was it Thursday?

And I hadn’t even had a shower yet! Ahhhgh! There always seemed to be time to write, but then once I had begun to do that I would realize that there really wasn’t or that I’d have to do one or two things to determine if I could or not. Why don’t I just write! I opened Microsoft word and started typing.

An hour later I’d managed to punch out three hundred words about what had happened this morning. I was feeling like it wasn’t going anywhere so I stopped a minute and opened my email.

Word count: 158, Total: 9295
posted by Nathan Kibler 10:49 AM

{Saturday, November 10, 2001}


I opened word and started typing but I didn't have focus and stopped after a single sentence. An Argument ensued between my conscience and my reason. If Benjamin has his partition blocked off with a password, what was he hiding? Internet porn? A confessional diary where he admits to a fetish for women's underwear? Blackmail material on each of his beat partner's?

My curiosity was getting the better of both my reasoning and my conscience. He may be made from the same cloth as you after all, just cut differently. I imagined he had the same birth date as me and the same genes. He is bound to share some of the same quirks and eccentricities.

My conscience: What are the ethics of spying on yourself? And if he can do that 'mind meld' thing wouldn't he be able to tell?

My reason: No, he said himself he can only send. If he could read your mind, but he did receive my dream speak...

My curiosity: I wonder...?

I needed to meditate anyway to prepare my mind for the writing muse. So I pushed away form my computer desk-the new one and stood. Where was my zabuton? Obviously, Benjamin was such a "neat freak" that it would be put away. I knew that instinctively maybe I could read his mind--not really reading minds per se, but exploring the depths of my own mind for the answer.

I stood in front of my shrine and lit a stick of incense. The spicy fragrance that rose from the smoke reminded me of the pleasant sensation of clearing my mind--the act of meditation. Almost suddenly the image of Benjamin opening a door, no, not exactly the image of Benjamin, but his hands, sun browned and sturdy but manicured, opening a door, a closet door--oh, now I knew exactly where my zabuton was. I opened my eyes and opened the closet to the right of the shrine.

Inside the closet I found several plastic dairy crates stacked along one wall of the small oblong room. This had once been a short coat closet, but now was nearly another room. At the other end was another door. There was a string pull for an overhead light and on pulling it I could see that this was originally a "suite" hallway that would connect this apartment to the one adjoining. There were shoeboxes a black steel steamer trunk and on one shelf my black zabuton.

I walked to the door at the other end of the hallway and tried the handle. There was an obviously heavy bolt above the worn wooden handle, but a keyhole in the plate surrounding the handle caught my eye. It was old fashioned skeleton key style and the mechanism had been removed so I could see daylight shining through. I put my eye to the keyhole.

The light was somewhat dim, like indirect light reflected into the corner of a room but I could make out a pattern of colors and lettering that looked like boxed goods on a shelf, perhaps someone's pantry. I immediately felt naked and exposed, just as I was looking in on someone's intimate storage room, they could just as easily look in on mine.

My first impulse was to grab some toilet paper from the bathroom and stuff up the hole. I fought down the urge as giving into my irrational fears. No one was going to think anything about what they could see through the keyhole into my closet, unless I took up the habit of stealing in there to masturbate to that naked feeling.

Word count: 603, Total: 9898
posted by Nathan Kibler